Sunday, September 30, 2012

The Basics 08: Biomechanical Modeling

Up to this point, I have posted some unique ideas related to Biomechanics (see The Basics 01, 02, 03, and 07).  I am not aware of any other Biomechanist who has written about these ideas.  I have also posted some very traditional Biomechanical concepts (see The Basics 04, 05, and 06).  However, I do believe my interpretations of these traditional concepts is unique.  I will finish this introduction to The Basics with the following statement:

No matter what kind of movement (linear or angular) you are performing, the seven basics I have posted so far WILL be a part of every explanation on how to achieve your desired movement outcome.

Of all my ideas, this statement is the most unique aspect of my understanding of Biomechanics.  It implies that their is a key set of Biomechanical Principles that are relevant to the creation of all human movements. To demonstrate my rationale for making this statement, I need to introduce an organizational tool I call Biomechanical Modeling.  As I go through the analyses of many types of movements, I will utilize this tool to show the cause and effect relationship between Biomechanical Principles and desired movement outcomes.  Through these analyses of movement, it will become apparent why I made the statement above.

Click on "read more" to learn about Biomechanical Modeling. 

First, some history on the term Biomechanical Modeling.  I learned of this term after reading the textbooks of Dr. James G. Hay.  I was fascinated with his concept of linking Biomechanical Principles to "explain" how movements are created.  When I started teaching, I tried to incorporate his methodology into my instructional repertoire.  But, as I attempted to teach Dr. Hay's method of Biomechanical Modeling, I found I struggled with the logic of his Biomechanical Modeling method.  I wish I had had the opportunity to communicate with Dr. Hay, but unfortunately he past away in 2002.

I then embarked on a journey of investigated reasoning to develop my own interpretation of Biomechanical Modeling.  I present this interpretation below.  I will always be grateful to Dr. Hay for his influence on my understanding of Biomechanics.  I hope to honor his memory by taking his original concept and modifying it in a way that he would find acceptable.

Biomechanical Modeling is a graphical representation method to organize the Biomechanical Principles that are used to create human motion outcomes.  Biomechanical models are specific to the desired human motion outcome you are trying to achieve.  For example, when you perform a vertical jump, one desired outcome is to achieve the greatest linear height.  The Biomechanical Model of Jumping for Height or Distance is applicable to ALL jumping movements that have the same desired outcome.  For example the model would be applicable in the following sports: in basketball - jump shooting and rebounding, in volleyball - spiking, blocking and serving, in track and field - the high jump, in football - catching a football and blocking a pass attempt, and in baseball - catching a ball that is over your head.  For all of these movements, the Biomechanical Model is the same.  But, the interpretation of the model will depend on the context of the movement.  Thus, the interpretation of the model for a volleyball spike will be different than the interpretation of the model for high jump in track and field.

The procedure for constructing a Biomechanical Model is straight forward.  You place the desired outcome at the top of the model.  You connect the most relevant fundamental Biomechanical Principle to that desired outcome.  Relevancy is determined by the type of movement (linear or angular motion) and the desired outcome.  You repeat this process of connecting relevant fundamental Biomechanical Principles to each other until all have been placed.  When you are done, you will have a diagram that shows all Biomechanical Principles that are relevant to explain how the human body can achieve a desired movement outcome; as well as, the interconnecting relationships between all of these principles.

Click on this link to download the Biomechanical Model of Jumping for Height or Distance.

Biomechanical Model of Jumping for Height or Distance

On upcoming posts, I will explain how the model was constructed (i.e, the relevant Biomechanical Principles and how they are connected) and, more importantly, how to interpret and use the model for Real-World Applications.

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